First Filipino table tennis Olympian Ian Lariba challenged student-athletes to hold on to their dreams and work hard to achieve them during the opening ceremonies of the Milo Little Olympics (MLO) National Capital Region leg on Friday at the Marikina Sports Park.
“Based on my experiences, there was nothing easy. You really need to work hard for something you really love. Sacrifices will always be worth it,” Lariba said.
Lariba was the 2004 MLO Most Outstanding Athlete for table tennis.
The 4th year De La Salle University BS Management and Financial student said that she went through the eye of a needle to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
She experienced serious doubt after losing to a Thai opponent in the qualifying tournament in Hong Kong.
“After I failed against Thailand, I told myself that I still have one last chance if I really push myself hard.”
“I poured all my strength into that last game against Indonesia since it would be all or nothing for me. And actually, it is the last game for women’s singles.”
“And I won. I just realized then that all your sacrifices will be worth it,” Lariba said.
A two-time University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Athlete of the Year; Lariba is an undefeated table tennis player during college.
Lariba saw the potential of the sport to help her family.
“My motivation is to help my family since they saw me enjoying and very interested in this sport. They encourage me that becoming a player will help us a lot in terms of my education since I can get scholarships.”
She also thanked La Salle for supporting her athletic pursuit.
“La Salle has influenced me a lot since I started my college years there. It taught me, especially, that as a student-athlete we should know our priorities, responsibilities and to manage our time.”
Lariba is also grateful to her Korean coach Kwon Missok and national coach Noel Gonzales for helping her achieve her full potential as an athlete.
As a way of giving back, Lariba plans to share her knowledge and skills to underprivileged but talented young athletes in the Philippines.
“That is one of my plans in the future. I really want to give back to the community since it is where I started. I also plan to conduct clinics to share my experiences and at the same time, to tour around the Philippines.”
As a parting shot, Lariba told the MLO participants to remain humble despite all their achievements.
“I just want them to realize that at their young age, dreams do really come true if you really work hard for it. There will be times that you feel like giving up but if you would be patient and be very determined to achieve your goal and what you really want, then eventually everything will pay off and will be worth it. So work hard, dream big but always stay humble,” Lariba said.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID